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Hi Amanda,
I agree with most of that. I was going to mention all the "harassment" stuff myself as an example.

The following seems easy to explain:

"I feel some of the worst of it is actually women who dislike each other because they feel to be in some sort of competition. I get along with men easier than woman in philosophy and I'm not sure why."

That's because they _are_ in competition, whether they consciously realize it or not. There are only so many attractive men to go around. No one wants to settle for the men other women don't want. Quite probably, if you're young and hot _and_ good at philosophy, the women are jealous, resentful or insecure; the men will have different responses. That'd be one natural explanation, at least. (Then there's the intellectual-professional competition too, of course! But that kind of competition tends to have a sexual dimension as well...)

I find it interesting that we nowadays think we're so sophisticated and knowledgeable about sexuality while ignoring all this stuff that would have been common sense to our great-grand-parents. Or we pretend not to know.

For example, men just are WAY more easily turned on by visuals, WAY more fascinated by sheer physical sex. And no, this isn't something that goes away after age 14. This is just what almost all men are naturally like. In old-fashioned cultures, women dress more modestly in part to protect themselves from unwanted attention, but also in part as a kindness to men.

I suspect that many women simply don't believe this because it's foreign to them, or because it seems gross or weird to them. And men typically won't be honest with women about this stuff, for obvious reasons. But as one piece of evidence (if any is really needed!) consider the behavior of gay men: this is how men act sexually when there are no women involved to influence the proceedings. Yes, they really are inconceivably promiscuous--like, in some studies, many of these guys report 100s of sex partners yearly. (And do lesbians do that?)

On campus, men nowadays are being bombarded with this crazy hyper-stimulation. Sorry if this is impolite, but it's worth mentioning just to indicate how insane this is: years back when girls starting wearing yoga pants, I realized that in some cases I could see distinct vaginal lips. Or, at least, I could very easily make out fine details of each ass cheek. I mean, what the fuck??? And now this is normal. I wasn't _trying_ very hard to see, though it was also kind of hard not to look. I shouldn't have to see vaginas when I'm trying to concentrate on my job.

Officially, guys are being told something like this: "These female human beings are no different from you; they're just 'fellow students' who are here to study and get their credentials; it would be 'sexist' to regard them as mere sex objects... blah, blah, blah... Now be a good boy, get back to your calculus homework." While everything they see around them is basically screaming "Fuck!" non-stop directly into their nervous systems. Talk about cognitive dissonance. I'm pretty sure that putting guys into this situation--worse, RAISING them in this for their whole lives--results in serious unrecognized health problems. And then we give the ones who can't get a girlfriend porn as a release, I guess. (We'll see how that works out long-term.)

I'm not saying that women shouldn't be dressing to attract interest from men (or rather, the men they want to be interested). But it's just _insane_ to set up this situation where many of them are quite literally indistinguishable from streetwalkers, and then expect a bunch of super-horny late-teen guys to treat them as if nothing sexual was going on.

What's a man supposed to do? Not even looking and enjoying the spectacle is emasculating. Looking is immoral. There's nothing you can do.

But I don't mean to suggest it's only a problem for men. Of course the culture creates all kinds of new and special problems for women. Obviously most women are not benefiting in the long run from a system where they have to give men sex _before_ they can even be sure there's going to be any kind of personal relationship. (They'd better, because if they don't there are lots of other girls who will...) All that is causing serious long-lasting psychic damage to women, in particular. Especially for them, all that cheap meaningless sex and 'dating' physiologically diminishes their capacity for bonding deeply to a man. (Science is now just beginning to understand the mechanics.) Then there's all the nasty long-term effects of the pill, abortion, etc. Overall it's probably far _worse_ for women in many ways than it is for men, even though a lot of this stuff was supposedly all about helping women, liberating them, etc

Anyway, yeah... It's very unclear to me why it's supposed to be so great to have men and women participating "equally" in everything!

Aesthetics grad

I just want to say that I've been following this thread for useful and interesting discussion, but Serf's confessional rants about Darwinism, philosophy, sex and whatnot are not just off-topic but completely off-putting as well.


Well Serf, we have gotten far off topic from managing philosophical relationships in spite of natural human biology. But fwiw, I agree with most (not all) of what you say. Although I myself would never be that blunt out of fear of alienating people both professionally and even friendship wise. Which is interesting...


Let's entertain Serf's picture of sexuality permeating all social relationships for a minute, along with his idea that this creates a great obstacle for men when they seek to interact with female colleagues and female students (as they become distracted by their sexual desires), and we bring this back to the original question Serf posed of whether "gender balance" in a philosophy department is even a desirable goal.

If we work with Serf's assumptions then his suspicion appear to be right: gender balance among faculty is not desirable. Given the way that he has described things, however, this is because men cannot work under sexually charged situations, whereas he suggests that women can. So, the logical conclusion would seem to be that philosophy departments should be run by women, as women will not be distracted by students wearing yoga pants or other sexy clothing and are so adept at tuning out sexual currents that they are often (happily) oblivious to what Serf suggests is really going on in men's minds as they navigate the world. In fact, a similar line of argument has been put forward by Dana Nessel campaigning for the position of Michigan Attorney General https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQL37wcgI6k#action=share

Serf might respond that even this will not do the trick. I was thinking only of the plight of male professors, but what about the male students? Male undergraduates will still be condemned to lose themselves in a sexual mist when a female student in yoga pants walks into the classroom and sits next to them, or their female professor wearing a pencil skirt turn around to write on the board. Ok, so what now? It would seem that the only way to overcome this issue completely would be to have fully sex-segregated schools and universities. Women teach female students and men teach male students.

But does this even truly solve the problem? What about when those women want to present their work at conferences? Their male colleagues at the now all-male universities are entirely out of practice in encountering women who can debate philosophical issues on the level of a professional philosopher. Adding fuel to the burning fire of desire, these are men who have dedicated their lives to philosophy and thus they are likely to be sapio-sexuals, only heightening the sexual allure of these female professional philosopher. Perhaps the male professors will end up treating their female counterparts dismissively, or patronizing them--but whatever the case may be, one thing seems certain: Given Serf’s set of assumptions, they will not be able to engage with them in a philosophically productive manner. Ok, so sex-segregated conferences now appear to be necessary.

But why would this be a problem only in academia? If this is how the world works, then I don’t want my sister consulting a tax attorney who can’t get over the idea of her sweet behind! He will just be more likely to perform a miscalculation or overlook something of importance. So, if we are working with the assumption that men’s relationship to their sexual desire is such that they cannot work productively in sexually charged situations and the only way to deal with this is to remove "sexual triggers" because there is nothing men can do to off-set the power of sexual attraction, then we find ourselves tumbling toward the idea that our society needs to be segregated by sex on all levels.

But does *this* even solve the problem? We have been working under a strong hetero-normative assumption this whole time. Remember, Serf also has cited gay men as being just as powerless toward their sexual desires (while lesbians, insofar as they are women, are not, see Serf above). Ok, so, a sex-segregated society appears to have only solved the issue for the women. What now?

I could continue (send all gay men to live with the women? give up on the male-sector of society and subjugate them fully to the female-sector?), but at this point I think that it is clear that we should give up the project of eliminating all possibility of being “sexually-triggered”, reassess the assumptions about whether sexual attraction must necessarily ruin one's ability to function intellectually, and look for a different route. I agree that sexual attraction and desire is something that is present in more interactions than many people would like to admit. I do not, however, believe that this must be detrimental to one's ability to function professionally.


Hm: the obvious answer is we do away with men! Either that, or we just try our best in spite of sexual attraction, which I do think is an issue we will always have, although I do not think the problem is nearly as dire as Serf proposes.


What I find most amusing about Serf's latest bout of confessional diarrhea (though I will admit that there is stiff competition on this front) is its emphasis upon how immensely difficult it must be for the swarms of (apparently) lecherous men in philosophy to restrain themselves when a woman attends a philosophy seminar in yoga pants. However difficult it may be to fully immerse oneself in The Phenomenology of Spirit when a female philosopher saunters by in pants that reveal "fine details of each ass cheek", one doubts that it even approaches the difficulty of getting through the vicissitudes of grad school and the job market while a non-trivial number of those around you can't seem to pry their eyes away from your "liberating" attire!


Thinking things over,
I am inclined to think that it is near impossible to move from a permanent position at a CC to a typical 4 year state college. I cannot imagine any of my colleagues (now or former) giving such an applicant consideration. So I would not hold out hope for that possibility.
I am struck by the fact that people think it is odd that their fates are sealed by a decision that they made when they were 22 - to go to this grad program rather than another. Clearly, their fate to go to a grad program of whatever rank they chose was also determined, to a large extent, by their decision to go to a certain four year college, a decision made when they were 17. You get the picture ... I think the USA is a lot more like Japan or Korea than most "middle class" Americans realize.


Humanati: one solution to the last problem would be to dress more modestly. I know that's a strange idea, but it just might help everyone concerned. On the other hand, it could be that some women are aware of their sexual power and enjoy exercising it. (But then perhaps as a favor to other females? A gesture toward leveling the playing field?)


Hm: Good idea. I hope in the near future white men will just drop out of the humanities altogether. They'll be happier and so will everyone else. Another option is a return to 19th century norms, but that's unlikely. Trouble is, a group that prevents its own men from leading and achieving will soon be dispossessed by some other more masculine group. So, either white sharia or the old-fashioned kind seems to be the long term prognosis.

Marcus Arvan

Serf: I am going to ask that we turn this thread back to its topic - the actual job market. I think the discussion has strayed quite far afield away from that.

Thinking Things Over

Fate: Thank you for the honest take. I am in a fixed term position at a 4-year university and weighing the options for the future. Many things about a CC position seem desirable (financial stability not be the least of them), but it seems that I would need to seriously entertain the possibility of never making it back into a university setting... Much to consider.

Marcus Arvan

Thinking Things Over: ‘Fate’ May be right that it would be near impossible to move from a CC to a state college. Be that as it may, I think it is still possible to move to a teaching SLAC. While I cannot speak for my colleagues, I would be very surprised if they or others at similar kind of university would hold a CC job against someone with a great teaching record and good research record.


Each committee is different, but my experience as a grad school adjunct who was good friends with the TT members at a state college makes me think a CC person would be considered just as well as anyone else. This is different if the school has a grad program in philosophy, which would make it a research school. I also adjuncted at a fancy slac and I think they would be unlikely to consider it, well, because they are fancy. I would say fancy is the key.

Fate: Yes your academic career is largely determined by how well you did in high school. I think this speaks to just how not egalitarian academia usually is, since there is a huge correlation between wealth and going to a fancy high school which gets you into a fancy college.


I do not get the distinction you draw between a 4 year state college and a teaching SLAC. I think they amount to the same thing, with the same basic prejudice against the CCs. Am I missing something in the distinction you are drawing?

Marcus Arvan

Fate: judging by some of the things you and others have said on the blog about state colleges, I gather they may place a greater premium on research than some of the non-elite liberal arts universities I have experience with (as an interviewee, friend of people who work at such places, etc.). For instance, I have heard it said a number of times on the Cocoon that state college search committees care about Leiter rank, journal rankings, etc. My sense is that while private liberal arts universities come in different flavors (size, ranking, etc.), a good number of them seem to attach much less value to Leiter rank or journal rankings, in some cases looking at both of these things not even as positives in a candidate, but as potential negatives.

Indeed, my sense is that there is a real spectrum of school-types and what they look in candidates. On one far end of the spectrum, there are R1’s, which seem to care a great deal about institutional prestige, Leiter rank, and high ranking journals. Elite liberal arts universities seem close to R1’s in these regards, while seeming to attach substantially more weight to teaching. Somewhere further down the spectrum—I gather from what I have read over the years at the Cocoon—come state schools, which still seem to attach significant weight to program ranking and journal rankings, but less so than R1’s and elite SLACs. Then there are what I will call “tweener” SLACs and MLACs,, which are not elite, do attach some value to research (wanting a peer reviewed publishing record from candidates), but do not attach much value to Leiter ranking or journal rankings—attaching less value to these things and far more to teaching. Then, rounding out the far other end of the spectrum I will call “teaching primary” SLACs and CCs, which don’t attach much value at all to research, only teaching. For instance, I have friends at very small teaching SLACs who have not only gotten tenure but promoted to full Professor with only one or two publications in low- to mid-ranked journals (which would never fly at “tweener” SLACs).

My sense is that there are all of these types of schools, and perhaps more in addition—and that they all differ substantially over their hiring priorities and what they look for in candidates.


Another type of school is one where philosophy is combined with either political science, religion, or history, and there is a master's program within the combined department but not philosophy. These schools tend to have 3-2 teaching loads and care about rank and research but not nearly as much as R1s.


Anybody figure out how to upload letters to the Sam Houston State University application? It doesn't seem there is a way to handle confidential letters. Who has their letters of recommendation on their computers? I'm puzzled about this.

Endless Apps

ABD4ever: I emailed the search committee chair, and he said I could submit them directly to him. I'd send an email asking and confirm this, then have interfolio send them directly. Good luck with the search!


Endless Apps: Thanks! I gave that a try. Good luck to you as well!


Apologies in advance if this question has already been addressed here (in which case I'd appreciate if someone could provide a link).

I'm preparing for an interview in the UK, and I'm unfamiliar with that system. I will give a half hour presentation, and the instructions make it sound like a cross between a teaching demo and a traditional job talk.

I'm not particularly inclined to use powerpoint or even a handout, since the topic is very accessible, the positions/arguments very straightforward, and the timeframe is short. Is this a mistake?


I would like to solicit people's opinions on something, if I may. Though it is only somewhat indirectly connected to the job-market; it may be of interest given the (historical) importance of the APA for job seekers.

The APA's website lists Feb 15 as the closing date for submissions to the Eastern division. I understand this to mean that one can make submissions through the 15th. When I logged in I found that `closing date Feb 15' meant `Feb 15 12.00AM', so the submission date is in fact the 14th. Am I right to feel duped? Is it reasonable to think that the 12.00AM Feb 15 cut off should be on the publicly viewable website, and not just on the website you must first pay to access?


Woeful that is very odd. I would have thought the same thing you thought.

Philosophy Adjunct

Thanks, Amanda.

Has anyone ever requested a refund for their APA membership?

I'm sorry to say that being able to submit is the only reason I have to join the APA - the new journal and other changes notwithstanding. If they can't be upfront about their submission procedure, whilst also demanding people pay to access that procedure, then I not sure they should be able to keep my money.


Does anyone know how much time usually elapses between a UK interview and either (i) an offer or (ii) rejection? Some have advised me that if you're their first choice, then you'll usually receive an informal phone call on the same day. Others have reported that you can sometimes get an e-mail offer from HR the next day, and that's the first you'll hear of it.


I've heard it's the same or next day. I had a European interview once and asked around.

Round two

What are the normal interview practices for non-TT positions like postdocs, VAPs, and adjuncts? I've only ever witnessed searches for TT positions, where candidate visits are a pretty big deal, last several days, involve a job talk, etc. But do VAP candidates also give job talks? Or teaching demonstrations? Or is it just an interview? What about postdocs? It seems like some postdocs don't do interviews at all, while others do...maybe? I recognize that this probably varies a lot, but it's something I've become curious about (now that I'm almost certainly going to be applying for some VAP jobs).


In my experience it varies. I've Skype interviewed for a VAP position that was also planning on doing flyouts, and I've Skype interviewed for a VAP position that wasn't planning on doing flyouts.


My PhD program usually does Skype interviews without flyouts for VAPs.

Marcus Arvan

There is no standard process for hiring VAPs. Some schools do both Skype and fly outs. Some only do Skype. Others do only fly outs. And some schools hire VAPs with no interview whatsoever!

Round two

Thanks! No interviews at all is really shocking - VAPs do a lot of teaching, you would think departments would be more interested in learning about them before making a hire.


Postdocs vary as well. I've had four flyouts for postdocs. The one postdoc I actually accepted hired me with no interview at all. It was just an application and then an acceptance letter.

Michel X.

Round two: I've had two rounds of Skype interviews for a VAP. My postdoc didn't interview at all, but a colleague was interviewed for his. Like the others said, it seems pretty variable.

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